Riding

Teaching a Horse to Stand Still

A horse that stands quietly can be invaluable in and out of the arena.

From AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship

It is useful to have a horse that has learned to stand still, calmly and patiently. Journal photo.

In everyday tasks involving your horse, it is useful to have a horse that has learned to stand still, calmly and patiently, without the company of other horses. A horse that halts quietly at your side as soon as you stop walking and keeps the same composure when he sees the vet or the blacksmith or is left tied up is an altogether more pleasant animal. Standing quietly also helps the horse become calmer and braver, which are useful qualities when you ride him.

AQHA's Fundamentals of Horsemanship can help you improve your communication with your horse. See how it can help you today.

All you need to help you in this lesson are a halter and lead rope.

After teaching your horse to respect your personal space, you must teach him to stand still – and not just by holding onto him firmly. On the contrary, as soon as he moves, you should ask him to do something – move back, for example. As soon as he stops moving, stop asking him to do anything. You will make the thing you want (doing nothing) easy and comfortable, and the thing you want to discourage (movement), uncomfortable.

Try using AQHA's Fundamentals of Horsemanship to help you improve your skills with your horse.

Be active and move around when he moves, but be really relaxed and still as soon as he stops. Each time he is distracted, bring his attention back so that both eyes are facing you.

Your horse should show signs of relaxation while standing, such as lowering his head or licking his lips.

Remember to use clear body language, that communication is a two-way thing and that you must start with both of the horse’s eyes facing you. Also remember that his attention must not stray from you.

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Do not try to stop the horse from moving by holding onto him hard instead of allowing him to stop moving. Horses learn from their mistakes just as we do, and by first allowing him to get it wrong, you will help him find the right solution eventually.